This article appeared in my Facebook newsfeed earlier today; The author, Mark Manson, poses and discusses “Seven Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose.” I found it a fascinating read, and wanted to spend more time considering his Questions. Maybe this will help shed some light on what I should be doing with myself.
Here’s the truth. We exist on this earth for some undetermined period of time. During that time we do things. Some of these things are important. Some of them are unimportant. And those important things give our lives meaning and happiness. The unimportant ones basically just kill time.
So when people say, “What should I do with my life?” or “What is my life purpose?” what they’re actually asking is: “What can I do with my time that is important?””
So here are Manson’s seven questions (some with explanations), and my hopefully-thoughtful personal responses.
1. “What’s your favorite flavor of shit sandwich, and does it come with an olive?” In other words: “Everything involves sacrifice. What unpleasant experiences are you able to handle?”
- I’m not afraid of answering phones.
- I can wake up at 6 to be at work for 8:30 or 9. (I much prefer staying up late.)
- I can write some programming code.
- I can clean up cat sick without being sick myself.
- Proofreading for grammar, spelling, & punctuation.
(Side note: Olives would not make said sandwich any more appetizing for me.)
2. “What is true about you today that would make your 8-year-old self cry?” What did I used to love doing that I don’t do anymore?
- I liked playing hide & seek as a kid, both in the house and in the woody swamp in the backyard.
- I haven’t played in the snow or danced in the rain in a long time.
- I used to absolutely obsess over swords & other weaponry.
- I wanted to go on adventures.
- I used to do a lot more baking than I have been.
- I love swimming, almost to the point of frolicking.
- I don’t read nearly as many books as I used to.
3. “What makes you forget to eat? Don’t just look at the activities that keep you up all night, but look at the cognitive principles behind those activities that enthrall you.”
- Reading (specifically getting lost in a different time / place)
- Organizing & spatial optimization
- Designing costumes (mostly historical garb), to absurd levels of detail
- Project ideas for fabric or yarn (related to point above)
- Planning and researching for travel
4. “How can you better embarrass yourself?” Translation: “There’s something that you think about, fantasize about doing. If your reasons for not doing it are based on what others would think, then you’re screwing yourself over. Chances are you’re actually avoiding something you truly care about because caring about that thing is what scares the shit out of you.”
- Ever since I started going to renfaires, I’ve wanted to become a merchant and travel around, selling my wares at faires & festivals across the country.
- Relatedly, I want to have a storefront to sell my stuff from, but am somehow terrified of actually setting up an Etsy store.
- I daydream of the historical dresses I want to make, and the balls & parties I would wear them to.
“Great things are, by their very nature, unique and unconventional. Therefore, to achieve them, we must go against the herd mentality. And to do that is scary.”
Yes. Yes it is.
5. “How are you going to save the world?” Find a problem you care about and start solving it.
- Animal welfare
- Climate change
- Women’s health & rights
6. “If you had to leave the house all day, every day, where would you go and what would you do?”
- Hiking to discover woody trails and scenic vistas and waterfalls
- Time with cats (somehow…)
- Travel to national parks & monuments
- Renaissance Faires
- JoAnn’s for fabric and yarns
- Maybe join a book club
- Learn new languages
7. “If you knew you were going to die one year from today, what would you do and how would you want to be remembered?”
- Cat Lady
- Badass Dancer
- I would want to leave inspirational life-wisdom for my people.
- Honestly, I kinda want to be like the Dos Equis guy, The Most Interesting Man in the World.
So, what are some common things among my responses? What is important to me?
- Animals, esp. cats
- Being active (hiking, swimming, dancing)
- Adventures (travel, renfaires)
- Keeping my mind active (languages, planning, design, organizing, problem solving, coding, reading)
- Creating (actually making the things I design)
OK. Now, Self, we just have to get past the fear to go do the things…